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Cameron wipes down the stove top. The sponge returns with a layer of grease and spaghetti sauce. It’s Chinese New Year, but he’s not Chinese. The Huffington Post told him that it was traditional to cleanse the household to remove remaining bad luck from the previous year and make way for new good luck to occupy the home and it seemed like a good idea.

Snow falls outside. Silent. Obscures the dark of the new moon. Stir fry soy sauce coagulates on the plate in the sink. He washes that, too, hoping for a fresh start that’s more than metaphorical.

Wikipedia says that this is the Year of the Snake. He doesn’t know what that means, but he was born in the Year of the Snake three cycles ago, so he thinks it’s significant. Maybe this is his year. That would be a first.

His father is a Horse, stamping out snakes in the grass. Cameron spends his life slithering into dark corners, unnoticed, dodging hooves. The two don’t talk anymore; it’s better that way. He notices that the grout between the white counter tiles needs cleaning; hopes he won’t attract too much bad luck by ignoring it.

The dishes are clean and he’s sweeping the floor. The broom bristles probe under the lips of the cabinets, the stove, the refrigerator, until there’s a neat pile of crumbs on the linoleum. He doesn’t know if it will truly bring good luck, but he feels better already. In control for once. Small accomplishments add up.

He is not Chinese, but he likes the way they think. Or, at least, he likes the way the culture is presented on the screen of his iPad. Valuing family above all else is good in theory, but how could Horses and Snakes live together? Wikipedia can’t tell him, but refers him to an article on Confucius. Huffington Post just wants him to see a cat teleport across a room.

He scoops the crumbs into the trash, ties off the bag and carries out into the snow. The sharp edges of the world are softened. Small icicle saplings grow in the lid of the garbage can.

Cameron taps his feet against the door frame to knock off the snow as he steps back inside the house. His cell phone, resting on the kitchen counter, rings.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer and snow shoveler in Flagstaff, AZ. He blogs here and tweets here and would love it if you followed him. If you do, he’ll try to resist the urge to tweet pictures of his lunch (but he isn’t promising anything).

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